Aging, Broken Infrastructure Frustrates Metro-North Riders

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Aging and broken public works have again plagued the Metro-North Railroad in Connecticut, slowing commuters into and out of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

A span on the Devon Movable Bridge that crosses the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford got stuck in the open position Wednesday. The bridge, which was built in 1904, carries trains on the New Haven line, Waterbury branch, Amtrak and Shore Line.

More repairs to a track will be required before the span is in operation next week, said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

The span came off its gears as it opened, he said. Trains are still able to pass, using the southern span at reduced speeds, “exponentially more manageable” than the failure at the Walk Bridge in Norwalk last year, he said, when commuters had to find alternative transportation.

The Walk Bridge, which was built in 1896, became stuck twice in the open position last year.

Devon has experienced “severe deterioration,” said the Northeast Corridor Commission. Movable bridges, tunnels and other structures date back as far as 1873, the organization said.

“Certainly, it’s one symptom of years of deferred maintenance on rail line infrastructure,” said Jim Gildea, vice chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, an advocacy group.

The state has targeted for replacement four moveable bridges on the New Haven line — A Greenwich span over the Mianus River, the Saga Bridge over the Saugatuck River and the Walk and Devon bridges.

Costs related to the Walk Bridge are about $400 million, while costs to replace the other bridges have not been detailed. Replacement work is not expected for several years.

The state budget approved by the legislature will include a $2.8 billion increase for infrastructure over the next five years, including $1.77 billion for rail, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

The failure of the Walk and Devon bridges is a “wake up call” to state transportation officials, said state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton.

Her constituents are “ballistic,” she said. “They have suffered for so long.”

Terri Cronin, chairwoman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, said she’s been riding trains for more than a decade and service has never been as bad as it is now.

“We’ve ignored the infrastructure so long it’s catching up with us,” she said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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